How To Spend Your Winter Break

Activities to de-stress and reconnect

By Sarika Waikar December 11, 2023
How To Spend Your Winter Break

As the chilly winds of winter approach, so does a break from the often busy and hectic Wolverine routine. Winter break offers a prime opportunity to unwind, reconnect with loved ones, and invest time in self-care. Take the time to prioritize yourself and engage in activities that you may not normally engage in while here on campus, and of course make sure to give yourself a real break, even if that means not necessarily being your most productive, school-mode self. Whether it’s cozying up by the fireplace or exploring the snowy (depending on where home is for you) outdoors, here are some delightful, simple ways to make the most of your winter break. It’s called break for a reason, after all.


Winter break serves as a crucial interval to rejuvenate and recalibrate. Be sure to take advantage of this time to prioritize self-care, a term that’s thrown around a lot but holds different meanings for everyone. Indulge in activities that nurture your well-being, whether that be physical- or mental-focused activities. Here’s a list of some physical activities I personally love to engage in, usually solo or sometimes with a friend:

  • Simple stretches on a yoga mat
  • Bike rides (not if snowy or icy, though!)
  • 15-30 minute yoga routines on YouTube
  • Dance or indoor workouts with upbeat music 
  • Walks exploring different neighborhoods in my hometown

Here are some more mental-focused activities that emphasize mindfulness and taking a step back:

  • Journaling 
  • Meditation
  • Digital detox (give yourself a break from the screen) 
  • Coloring (both children and adult coloring books work — have no shame in either!)

Remember, self-care looks different for everyone, and these are just a few examples to get your brain thinking!

Reconnecting with hometown friends and family 

Winter break is a fantastic opportunity to check in with those that we don’t get to see face-to-face while at school, especially if you’re from farther away. Phone calls and FaceTimes with loved ones and friends from childhood just aren’t the same as connecting in person, which we all learned from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. So take advantage of the proximity of those we may only stay in touch with virtually while we’re at school, even if it’s just grabbing a coffee at your local cafe. With more relaxed schedules, make sure to weave in some social bonds throughout your time at home, and catch up with old friends to share experiences and laughter. Seeing those you haven’t seen in months or even years can feel like a breath of fresh air, emphasizing the comfort of nostalgia and familiar faces.

Make sure to prioritize family time as well and not take it for granted, because as we get older this time becomes increasingly precious. Here are some fun, wholesome ways to reconnect with your family:

  • Bowling
  • Ice skating
  • Bake cookies
  • Homemade crafts
  • Board game night
  • Watch old family videos
  • Do a complicated puzzle
  • Try a new restaurant in town
  • Movie marathon/living room fort

There are so many ways to spend quality time with family and hometown friends — both at home and around town — at minimal or no cost. Take a load off from the school stress and surround yourself with those that feel like home, because schedules align less and less as we enter the workforce (quite the unfortunate truth!).

Prioritizing hobbies

Winter break also offers a blank canvas to delve back into passions that often take a backseat in the hustle of everyday life. Sometimes we forget the things we love to do while at school, because homework, extracurriculars, and other commitments often take the reins on our day-to-day lives. It’s easy to stray from engaging in hobbies when other things take priority, so get back to what you love over break and rekindle that spark of joy when doing so.

It's a time when the avid reader finally flips through all those piled-up novels, the aspiring chef experiments with new recipes, and the artist finds solace in a blank canvas, igniting creativity. The hiker finds their sanctuary in serene trails, while the gamer indulges in immersive worlds, embracing the bliss of uninterrupted play. Perhaps you have a watch list that you haven’t quite had the time to get through while at school, and now you can finally relax on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy those shows or films. Prioritizing hobbies over winter break isn't just about indulgence; it's a rejuvenating act of self-care, a nurturing of the soul, and a strong appreciation for time off after a long semester.

In closing

Now that you have a toolkit under your belt of how to spend your time off, I hope you’re excited to enter this break of relaxation and reconnecting. Don’t feel pressure to be doing something at all times though, because time spent simply being is important, even if it means “doing nothing.” Try not to overwhelm yourself with an intense, packed schedule, but do make the time to prioritize yourself and get back to what and who you love, because these breaks are incredibly valuable for your well-being!

S. Waikar
Sarika Waikar

Sarika Waikar is a current junior pursuing a major in communication and media with minors in entrepreneurship and environment. She is from Evanston, IL (just north of Chicago!) and interned this past summer at 1871, a startup incubator in the city. At U-M, she's the logistics co-coordinator for the South Asian Awareness Network, a research assistant for the Department of Communication and Media, a teacher's assistant at Towsley Children House, and heavily involved in her entrepreneurship fraternity, SEPi. She loves travel adventures, exploring Ann Arbor, cooking new dishes, and hanging out with friends!